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Advocating Teacher Choice at West Ada Listening Session
posted by: Cindy Omlin | December 01, 2015, 05:01 AM   

NWPE Regional Director Brenda Miller offered the comments of NWPE members Kim Zeydel, Idaho Teacher of the Year 2015 and teacher at Meridian Academy, and Chad Arnell, teacher at Lowell Scott Middle School.  Kim and Chad’s statement urged the board to hire a superintendent that supports Idaho’s Right to Work law and equal access for nonunion teacher associations.  Their full statement follows:

Thank you for seeking public input on considerations to take into account when hiring a new superintendent.
As a West Ada teacher who belongs to a non-union, professional association, I believe it is very important that the new superintendent be knowledgeable and supportive of Idaho’s Right to Work law.  While the teachers union can be a fit for educators, others prefer an alternative that best meets with their budgets and beliefs.  The new superintendent should support teacher choice and the right of educators to both join or to refrain from joining a labor union.

For nearly a decade, the West Ada administration has blocked educators from learning about their nonunion options by refusing my association of choice, Northwest Professional Educators (NWPE), participation in benefit fairs, new teacher orientations, distribution of materials in teacher mailboxes, and visits to school campuses — despite the fact that NWPE has given numerous grants and scholarships to West Ada teachers who are not NWPE members.  NWPE members have also been blocked by district administration from sharing NWPE in limited public forums, such as the school mail system and bulletin boards, while there is no discrimination against other organizations.  This viewpoint discrimination is unworthy of this fine district and it blocks teachers from making educated decisions about association membership.

NWPE is a nonprofit, nonpartisan association providing educators with support services including personal professional liability protection, legal services for workplace issues, grants and scholarships, professional development, and a host of other benefits designed to advance academic professionals.  NWPE does not bargain and is prohibited from bargaining.  It is a 501(c)(6) professional trade association.

The new superintendent should support the free marketplace of ideas in order to advance mutual respect, cooperation and the exchange of ideas. To this end, I encourage the board to hire a superintendent who will support a policy that is pro teacher choice. Educators’ right to work protections, employee freedom of speech, and equal access for nonunion alternatives should be priorities.

Thank you for your consideration.

Brenda noted that the gentleman who spoke before her stated that he chose not to join the union when he was teaching providing Brenda with the perfect segue to her comments.  After her comments, Director Tina Dean asked Brenda about NWPE’s access experiences in other districts.  Other community members shared that the new superintendent should have both business and education experience, be visible in the schools, and engaged with the local community.

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